What Do You Do When You Mess Up?

I think we’d all admit that making mistakes is a part of life.  Yet, we seem to think that we should never make mistakes when it comes to our money.

Life is about learning and growing, and the best way we have to do both is to make some mistakes.  Rarely are these mistakes catastrophic on their own, but a lifetime of making the same mistakes over and over can seriously derail your plans.  So how can better move on when we mess up, and avoid those bumps in the road in the future?

1.  Be Accountable to Yourself.  You can’t make better decisions in your life for anybody else, you can only make them for yourself.  Look inside and ask yourself what that decision was about.  Was it about control?  Fear?  Soothing your anxieties with the rush of purchasing something new?  No matter how much you might want to change your spending behavior to be a better spouse/parent/role model/etc., you’ll never be able to successfully change unless you’re doing it for yourself.  Make different decisions because you want to be proud of yourself.  This will build your integrity, and your ability to withstand temptation in the future.

2.  Don’t Hide.  If you’re committed to having the relationship with money (and your partner/spouse) that you want, you can’t hide your mistakes.  It creates distance in your relationships and it reinforces any negative self-views you have about money (“I’ll never be able to handle my own money”).  This is scary and difficult, and I know from experience that I’ve ducked conversations with my wife about my spending because I was afraid of what she would think.  If you’re fortunate as I am to have somebody caring and understanding in your life, open up to them about it.  After all, you’re in it together.

3.  Avoid Situations That Lead to Choices You Regret.  Are there certain places that lead you to spend more than you’d like?  Trips to the mall for no particular reason?  Drinks after work that turn into dinner and more drinks later?  Look at those patterns that you see and find ways to insert other positive behaviors into those spaces.

I don’t anybody can reach perfection when it comes to their financial decisions, but I think we could all do a little better.  Hold on to yourself and start making decisions that you can be proud of today.  Stack one day on top of another and soon you’ll have a pattern, and you’ll feel that integrity growing inside of you.  You can do this, if you focus on the positives and do it for yourself.